| Putrajaya, Malaysia | 11 Feb 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Malaysia’s interfaith council has welcomed the latest Federal Court on the demarcation of civil and Syariah courts jurisdiction in a long-drawn conversion case.
The Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity Hinduism, Sikhism & Taoism (MCCBCHST) noted the decision in the S.Deepa’s case ‘although belated by 7 years has reconfirmed’ an earlier Federal Court decision.
“The MCCBCSHT hopes that the Syariah Courts would take notice of this Federal Court decision when the Federal Court clearly stated that Syariah Court only have jurisdiction have only where both parties are Muslim’s,” says MCCBCHST vice president Jagir Singh in a statement released yesterday.
On 10 Feb, the The Federal Court ruled that it is the civil court that should decide the custody of children who were converted to Islam.
A five-man bench chaired by Tan Sri Raus Sharif said a non-Muslim marriage did not dissolve when one party embraced Islam.
“Divorce and custody of non-Muslim marriages are exclusive jurisdiction of the civil court,” he said in dismissing Izwan Abdullah’s appeal, reports online news portal The Malaysian Insider. See full report here.
Jagir is also the president of the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC).
THE MCCBCHST STATEMENT IN FULL
Interfaith council welcomes Malaysia’s Federal Court decision on demarcation of civil/syariah courts jurisdiction
The Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity Hinduism, Sikhism & Taoism (MCCBCHST) welcomes the decision of the Federal Court in S. Deepa’s case which was delivered this morning. The Federal Court held that it is the civil court that had the jurisdiction and therefore should decide the custody of children who were converted to Islam. The Federal Court added that “Divorce and Custody of Non-Muslim marriages are exclusive jurisdiction of the civil court. Tan Sri Raus Sharif who chaired the 5 member Panel of the Federal Court stated “a non-muslim spouse could not abuse his conversion to Islam to escape his obligation.
The above decision of the Federal Court although belated by 7 years has reconfirmed the Federal Court earlier decision in TAN SUNG MOOI (FC) V. TOO MIEW KIM  3 CLJ 708 where the Federal Court had held:
“In the context of the legislative intent of S.3 and the overall purpose of Act, the respondent’s legal obligations under a Non-Muslim marriage cannot be extinguished or avoided by his conversion to Islam.
The problem persisted until now after TAN SUNG MOOI’S case due to the following:-
(i) The Syariah Courts began to assume jurisdiction over conversion cases arising out of a Non-Muslim marriage, although they did not have the jurisdiction as confirmed by the Federal Court in S. Deepa’s case
(ii) While Syariah Courts began To assume more and more Jurisdiction in conversion cases, the civil Courts appeared to be abdicating their duty in this cases, and saying they had no jurisdiction. This stand of the civil courts resulted in Non-Muslim unable to get a remedy earlier, such as in Indira Ghandi’s case. The latest court of Appeal decision in early JANUARY, 2016 in Indira Ghandi’s case where the court held they had no jurisdiction in conversion cases, although the marriage was between Non-Muslims and done in a civil court is a case in point.
The Federal court’s ruling that S.Deepa would continue to have custody over her daughter Sharmila while Irwan will have custody over Muthran, is to be understood as being based on the facts of this case as Federal Court found that both the children were quite settled with their parents. Thus, this decision cannot be used as a precedent in future cases to deny custody of children to the Non-converting spouse.
The MCCBCSHT hopes that the Syariah Courts would take notice of this Federal Court decision when the Federal Court clearly stated that Syariah Court only have jurisdiction have only where both parties are Muslim’s” The MCCBCHST also hopes that the civil court will take notice of this Judgment, and not refuse Jurisdiction in such cases.
- Jagir Singh, Vice President, MCCBCHST
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
PM appoints Jagir, Dr Sarjit to Malaysia’s interfaith commit (Asia Samachar, 4 Feb 2016)
Conversion ruling in Malaysian court affects all, Sikhs included (Asia Samachar, 6 Jan 2015)
MGC passionately protects religious rights of Sikhs, others in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Forum picks 3 areas for immediate attention for Sikhs in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 28 Sept 2015)
Malaysian Sikhs worry most about economy, divorce and conversion, reveals new ground breaking research (Asia Samachar, 24 Sept 2015)
Ipoh Sikhs raise alarm on Punjabi Christian event (Asia Samachar, 13 May 2015)
Surjit joins Singapore’s Presidential Council for Minority Rights (Asia Samachar, 2 Apr 2015)